Seymour and Dunne offer to swap for Maori in RMA impasse

Maori Party Co-leaders Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell held a press conference in November last year about reaching agreement on the RMA but it now appears to be at an impasse. Photo: Lynn Grieveson

ACT Leader and Epsom MP David Seymour and United Future Leader and Ohariu MP Peter Dunne have intervened to offer a way for the Government to pass Resource Management Act (RMA) reforms without the support of the Maori Party.

The reforms are still being negotiated between the Government and the Maori Party at the third reading stage because Maori want to further strengthen Iwi participation agreements that it negotiated for its initial support. Speculation has grown in recent days that the Maori Party and Environment Minister Nick Smith are at an impasse, although both have said publicly they are still in discussions.

Dunne and Seymour said they had re-submitted an offer they made a year ago to support the Government's Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, but only if the bill removes the Iwi participation agreements and removes the so-called Section 360D powers that would allow the Environment Minister to over-rule specified rules set by Councils.

The Section 360D rule would allow the central Government to over-ride any Council ban on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).

Dunne and Seymour appeared in Parliament this afternoon to make a joint statement to say they had written a letter restating their offer made a year ago. Seymour and Dunne have both opposed the bill through the first and second stages.

Seymour said the National Party was being "obstinate" in choosing to keep the 360D clause, while the Maori Party was being "greedy" in attempting to extract more from its leverage over the reforms, which Smith has pledged to get through well before the house rises on August 17 before the election.

He said Dunne and Seymour also wanted the RMA amended to recognise property rights.

"Local communities must retain the right to create local plans, without the threat of ministerial intervention," Seymour said, adding that the Act already provided strong protection for Maori interests and the Iwi participation agreements were not needed.